TRUTH be told, Aris Dimaunahan dreamt of this moment, him coaching a PBA team of his own.
He just never thought it would come this early.
"When I was a player, I dreamt of playing in the PBA and I got it. The Lord blessed be with that and I worked hard for it also and it happened. After playing, I aspired being a coach, imagined myself in the PBA. I just didn't expect na ganito kabilis dadating," he said.
The 41-year-old bench tactician was installed as the head coach for Blackwater just before the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup as he was tasked to steer the ship for a young Elite squad following the departure of coach Bong Ramos.
"Hindi naman ako nag-apply na maging head coach. Nagkaroon lang ng changes and na-offer sa akin. I accepted the challenge," he said.
Dimaunahan truly felt the nerves on Sunday as he braced for his first at the helm.
But harking back to his playing days, once the ball was tipped, all those worries went away.
"Sa totoo lang, sobrang kinakabahan ako. Syempre this is the big league," he shared. "Pero after the opening tip, nawala naman."
Blackwater went on and took the 94-91 overtime win, with import Alex Stepheson and rookie Bobby Ray Parks making huge impressions in their debuts to open the second conference.
And Dimaunahan's glee couldn't be contained.
"It's a big help for us na manalo kami sa first game namin kasi this will dictate kung hanggang saan kami makakarating. I said nga to the guys na they have to reward themselves tonight because they've been working hard for the past five weeks. Every day, they get up, every day they grind, every day, nagpa-practice sila. So congratulations to them for making it today," he said.
For Dimaunahan, this breakthrough win is a testiment to the trust given to him by the Blackwater big wigs.
"I'm happy for the opportunity given to me by the team owners boss Dioceldo (Sy) and boss Silliman (Sy). I want to thank the management for giving me the opportunity to coach this team," he said.
But at the same time, Dimaunahan also gave a toast to the coaches who held the fort before him, namely Leo Isaac and Bong Ramos.
"I learned how to be a good soldier because of them," the former Ginebra player gave a toast.
"I want to thank those two guys, coach Leo who's been a father to me and coach Bong who's been a dear friend for me. They let me do my job, let me coach the team in practices, and it's a big help kung paano ako natutong mag-coach. Dahil yun sa kanilang dalawa. Sana hindi ko rin sila ma-disappoint sa mga natutunan ko sa kanila."
One win, though, is just the start of the journey, as Dimaunahan hopes that the Elite could rack more wins as they embark on this new chapter.
"I'm happy with how the players responded from our first day together and in our first game together. I couldn't be any more happier than this," he said. "Hopefully, we get another one the next time out. Sana magdire-diretso."